Happy New Year

Wanted to wish everyone a happy, healthy and safe new year.

When I started writing this blog in March, I had no idea where it would take me. I'm proud of all the people I've met and how far this blog has come. I hope I've been able to entertain everyone as well as provide some useful information.

My goal in the new year will be as always -- to have a forum to share things that are all about pets, including news, notes, tips, fun stuff and more.

Again, happy new year, from The Pet Haven!

Celebrities & Their Pets


If you ever wanted to see celebrities showing off their pets, then this link is for you. Enjoy.

Chihuahua Helps Police Find Suspect

In Auburn, CA, A three-pound Chihuahua mix named Tink helped police put a fugitive in the clink.

The dog's Christmas Day adventure began when four suspects who were fleeing police crashed a stolen minivan into a hillside in this Sierra foothill town east of Sacramento, and one of them fled.

Tink, a Pomeranian and Chihuahua mix, found him hiding under a neighbor's motor home and chased him into the woods.

Source: AP

It's cat vs. rat in NY delis

New York city’s health code and state law forbid animals in places where food or beverages are sold for human consumption. Fines range from $300 for a first offense to $2,000 or higher for subsequent offenses.

But many deli and Bodega owners in New York City are defending their right to keep cats in their stores. The cats keep the rat and mice under control - city inspectors contend the cats pose a health hazard.

Many store owners keep cats despite the law, mainly because other options have failed and the fine for rodent feces is also $300.

“It’s hard for bodega owners because they’re not supposed to have a cat, but they’re also not supposed to have rats,” said José Fernández, the president of the Bodega Association of the United States.

Source: New York Times

Wow! That's a lot of puppies

Had all of the 21 puppies in Great Dane Kenya's litter lived, she would have broken the existing record of 20 surviving puppies in a single litter.

Nineteen newborn puppies still make for a lot of feeding and care, so Kenya is receiving some assistance. Half the puppies nurse on Kenya and the rest feed on formula in baby bottles. Then they rotate.

Kenya's owner, Julie Nelson, plans to sell all of the pups, probably for $1,000 to $1,200 each, although she said a couple of them may be sold for more because their markings are so good.

Source: Mercury News

Buying Tropical Fish

When buying a tropical fish, There are some important things to consider before taking one home. Obviously, you want a fish that is healthy. But how do you pick a healthy one out when at the store?

First off, it helps to know a little bit about the fish you are buying before taking it home. This way you will know what the fish should look like and what kind of behavior to expect. You should examine the fish closely before it even leaves the store. Here are some things to look for when you're at the fish store:
  • Examine the fish closely for any type of white spots or fungus
  • Look at the eyes of the fish. Make sure they are not cloudy or show signs of pop-eye (a condition where the eye of the fish looks like it it popping out)
  • Examine the fish closely for any torn or missing fins-Are the fish swimming normally? or are they exhibiting some sort of unusual behavior.-How are the other fish in the tank? Do any of them have signs of illness or disease? If so, don't purchase any fish in that tank since you don't know what may have spread.
  • Are there any dead fish in the tank? If so, it's a good idea to stay away from any fish in that tank.
  • Another thing you may want to ask is what type of filtration system the store contains. Many large stores may have a central filtration system where several tanks are sharing the same water. If this is the case, then if one tank shows signs of ick or disease, there is a good chance the water quality in the other tanks sharing that water could be impacted.
  • Make sure to do your homework before bringing any fish species home. If you don't know how big the fish will get, or if he'll attack and kill the other fish in your home aquarium, do some research before taking that fish home.

Ukrainian mussels invading California

Quagga mussels, an exotic species native to Ukraine that was first found in the Great Lakes 18 years ago, have been found in a fifth San Diego County reservoir.

Quaggas apparently were transported from Europe to Lake Erie in the United States in the ballast water of oceangoing ships, The San Diego Union-Tribune reported.

The mussels grow virtually unmolested because they have no natural predators. They clog pipes and screens at power stations, water treatment plants and agricultural irrigation lines.

Photo: New York Sea Grant

How Much is that Designer Doggie?

Conde Nast Portfolio.com reports that the biggest trend in pets isn’t purebreds, but specially created hybrids.

For example, this puppy is a Kimola (American Eskimo dog and Lhasa apso.)

Isn't he cute?

We used to call these dogs "mutts" and get them at Animal Welfare for a minimal cost.

Times are changing.

More Holiday Wishes

Hope everyone had a good holiday. The "boys" got plenty of new toys and treats and we are enjoying some time off. I'll be back soon with some more fun posts.

Will Beetles Inherit The Earth?

Most modern-day groups of beetles have been around since the time of the dinosaurs and have been diversifying ever since, says new research.

There are approximately 350,000 species of beetles on Earth, and probably millions more yet to be discovered, accounting for about 25% of all known life forms on the planet. The reason for this large number of beetle species has been debated by scientists for many years, but never resolved.

Now a team of scientists has shown that large numbers of modern-day beetle lineages evolved very soon after the first beetles originated, and have persisted ever since. Many modern-day lineages first appeared during the Jurassic period, when the major groups of dinosaurs appeared too.

Tiger Kills Man at San Francisco Zoo

A tiger escaped its enclosure at the San Francisco Zoo, killing one visitor and mauling two others on Christmas.

Zoo officials were still uncertain how long the Siberian tiger, the same one that mauled a zoo keeper almost one year earlier, had been loose before being killed by police.

The attack occurred just after the 5 p.m. closing time, on the east end of the 125-acre grounds.

The zoo's director of animal care and conservation, Robert Jenkins, could not explain how Tatiana escaped. The tiger's enclosure is surrounded by a 15-foot-wide moat and 20-foot-high walls, and the approximately 300-pound female did not leave through an open door, he said.

"There was no way out through the door," Jenkins said. "The animal appears to have climbed or otherwise leaped out of the enclosure."

Vacuums Destory Flees!

A recent article puts to rest the question of what happens to flees when they are vacuumed up!

Experiments conducted by Ohio State University researchers on the cat flea (Ctenocephalides felis)—the most common type of flee plaguing companion animals, such as dogs and cats, and humans—showed that vacuuming killed fleas in all stages of life.

The stages of life of a flee aren't very appetizing: Fleas have multiple life stages- Adults suck the blood of their host and females lay eggs on them. The eggs roll off onto the floor, furniture or pet bedding and hatch two to 14 days later. The insects go through three larval stages, the last of which spins into a cocoon to protect the pupa stage. New adults typically emerge within a week or two.

Click the link below for the full study, but the good news is, when it comes to flees, a vacuum really sucks!!!

Dogs and Chocolate

If your dog begs for chocolate, don't give in! Chocolate contains theobromine, a naturally occurring stimulant found in cocoa beans that can cause vomiting, heart problems, seizures, and even death for dogs.

How much chocolate is too much? It depends on the type of chocolate and the weight of the dog.

Find out how much of each kind of chocolate can harm your pet by consulting the National Geographic Magazine Chocolate Chart.

Scroll on the page to change the weight of the dog and the type of chocolate.



So this is Christmas?

From the Cavalcade of Bad Nativities

Pets Get Holiday Gifts Too

It's no secret that America has a love affair with pets. In fact, more than one-half of pet owners in the US report buying gifts for their pets, according to the American Pet Products Manufacturers Association's (APPMA) 2007-2008 Pet Owners Survey.

The year-end holiday season is the most frequent gift-giving occasion for US pet owners, with this breakdown:

  • 57% of dog owners report giving their dogs gifts for Christmas or Hanukkah, spending an average of US$10 per gift;
  • 42% of cat owners say they give kitty gifts at this time, spending an average of US$11;
  • 32% of small animals owners report giving their pets gifts at this time and spend an average of US$12; and
  • 27% of bird owners say they give their feathered friends holiday gifts, spending an average of US$13.

One of the most popular types of pet gifts is treats, says the survey. As many as 90% of US dogs receive treats, followed by 82% of birds, 79% of small animals and 69% of cats. On average, dog owners spend US$66 per year on treats.

Dog Saves Elderly Woman

Mary Hartman, 91, slipped on a patch of ice as she was attempting to deliver cookies to a nearby neighbor.

Hartman called for help, but it was a cry that only neighbor Judy Sawatzki's Jack Russell terrier mix, Taz, could hear.

"He would run to the window and come back to me," Sawatzki said. "He would whine and bark, and then go back to the window again."

That's when Sawatzki let Taz outside, and the terrier mix shot down the driveway barking for her to follow. Taz led her to Hartman, who was crying for help on the icy driveway.

These dogs have a nose for doo-doo

Dogs possess such an extraordinary sense of smell that they can distinguish among the feces of 18 species at once, making them ideal tracking aids for conservation biologists hoping to cover a lot of ground. Or water.

Beyond helping document grizzly and black bear behavior in Alberta’s vast Jasper National Park, the dogs have located floating feces from endangered North Atlantic right whales in Canada’s Bay of Fundy and from the Pacific Northwest’s declining orca population. Remarkably, some of the poop snoopers perched on the bows of research vessels have tracked down whale scat more than one nautical mile away.

Among the growing number of scat-detection dogs used to track wildlife by land or by sea, the canines employed by the University of Washington’s Center for Conservation Biology are showing that no technology can yet outdo their know-how for doo-doo.

Samuel Wasser, the center’s director, said feces is the easiest part of an animal to collect and a “treasure trove” of vital information. Apart from diet, scat can reveal the species, sex and identity of an individual through DNA, while released hormones can record an animal’s nutritional state, reproductive status and stress levels.


Peanut Butter Christmas Mice


Watch Santa and his reindeer fly

Beginning at 2:00 am MTN on Christmas Eve, you can track Santa Live as he makes his historical journey around the world!

This is exciting, as Santa travels fast and NORAD Santa Cams take photos of Santa and his reindeer!

NORAD has been tracking Santa and that “nose so bright” for more than 50 years.

Reindeer Facts

Just one night each year, nine tiny magic reindeer pull Santa and his toy-filled sleigh around the world. They are Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet, Cupid, Donner, Blitzen and Rudolph, and it’s said that these mythical animals are the only reindeer that can fly.

Dr. Perry Barboza is a physiologist at the Institute of Arctic Biology, University of Alaska at Fairbanks, who studies reindeer and their closest cousins, caribou.

He points to the fact that male reindeer shed their thick antlers at the end of mating season in early December. The females also have antlers, but their thinner version stays with them throughout the winter. This means that Rudolph and Santa's team are all females.

What about the non-magical reindeer, the ones which don't fly?

At the start of winter, females may be as much as 50% body fat. The fat, which can be a couple of inches thick on their rumps, insulates them from months of cold -- as low as minus 45° F.

Males go into winter with much lower fat stores than females, as low as 5%, because they use so much energy during the fall mating season. So, losing the weight of their antlers is probably an energy saver.

Reindeer have specially designed coats with hollow hairs that help maintain body heat.

Family dog viciously attacked

Terrible, senseless act in Connecticut.

by News Channel 8's Annie RourkePosted Dec. 18, 20079:55 PM
Milford (WTNH) _ A disturbing case of animal cruelty has a Milford pet owner mystified and his small dog recovering from a vicious attack that took place just steps from his home.
The attack happened early Sunday morning around 1 a.m. when Jack Vernon let his dog Sparky outside before going to bed. That's when he says two teenagers, a boy and girl, tried to kill his dog.
"I just sat down, about two minutes later, I hear hee hee hee, laughing and giggling, I said, what the heck are kids doing out this time of night? I go out there and they ran down the street," Vernon explained.
When Vernon went outside he made the disturbing discovery - his 11-year old Pekinese-Pomeranian mix had been slashed with a knife.
"He was gashed all the way from the back, all the way down the front and then the top, they must've stuck him with the knife and then they cut him over the ear and all the way down almost to the jugular vein," Vernon said.
One cut is 14 inches long and the wounds criss-cross over his back and around his ear. After undergoing surgery to literally stitch him back together he now has three drainage tubes inside and is on a whole host of medicine. Still, Sparky's lucky to be alive.
"The vet says, another half-inch and he would've died, he would've bled to death in a matter of minutes," Vernon said.
Vernon says he can't imagine why someone would attack a small, defenseless animal. He is offering a $300 reward to help find who did this to his dog.
If you have any information, you're asked to call the Milford police department.

Video: White Catmus


Santa's helpers - Pets dressed for Christmas

"Santa Claws" uploaded by Malingering

Got fleas? Get the vacuum

Vacuum cleaners kill fleas just as well as any poison, surprised U.S. researchers found.

They said a standard vacuum cleaner abuses the fleas so much it kills 96 percent of adult fleas and 100 percent of younger fleas.

Glen Needham, associate professor of entomology at Ohio State University, suggested that the vacuum brushes wear away a waxy outer layer on insects called the cuticle. Without it, the fleas, larvae and pupae probably dry up and die, he said.

The findings were so surprising that the researchers ran their experiment several times.

Santa Biggie

"Santa Biggie" uploaded by *Kendall*

If you like this kind of stuff, don't miss our outstanding collection of
Cats in Hats for Christmas

What do Therapy Dogs Do?

When I was visiting a relative in the hospital, she was visited by a therapy dog. It was great to see the dog and took our minds off of things for a while.

How do dogs help with therapy? According to Therapy Dog International (TDI), The dogs bring sparkle to a sterile day, provide a lively subject for conversation, and rekindle old memories of previously owned pets. Therapy dogs come in all shapes and sizes; real dogs with real personalities and real love to share.

The volunteers in the program and the dogs who visit with those in care facilities do make a difference in the quality of life. Real therapy is provided between animals and people.

The first time a dog prances into a care facility, most people do a double take. A split second later broad smiles stretch across faces. Regardless of how residents look or how they feel, the animals are happy to see them. Those who live or must stay in a care facility truly benefit from the unconditional love and acceptance provided by TDI Dogs. Typically, there is an immediate response to the tail wagging greetings and warm paws.

Four-footed therapists give something special to enhance the health and well-being of others. It has been clinically proven that through petting, touching and talking with the animals, patients’ blood pressure is lowered, stress is relieved and depression is eased.

Each TDI volunteer as an individual has made a tremendous difference in the lives of so many, by sharing their canine companion with those who no longer are able to have a dog of their own.

Just think! How sad it would be if you never could touch a dog again.

Trackposted to Pirate's Cove, Outside the Beltway, Celebrity Smack, Blog @ MoreWhat.com, Rosemary's Thoughts, Mark My Words, and Faultline USA, thanks to Linkfest Haven Deluxe.

Flatulent cow attracts tourists

A mechanical cow that breaks wind on the hour has become Edinburgh's latest tourist attraction.

The bovine backside has been attached to the side of the Rowan Tree pub in the city's historic Old Town.

It lifts its tail and shoots out a cloud of white smoke at passers-by throughout the day.

Unusual swan finds love

Crinkly has been making the journey from the Arctic tundra to Slimbridge Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust, Gloucestershire, for Christmas, since 2001.

Crinkly has become a favorite with staff and visitors, but until today, none of the females at the trust was prepared to mate with him. Now it appears that Crinkly is associating with another Slimbridge Bewick's swan called Taciturn.

Two New Mammal Species Discovered In Indonesia's Wilderness

A tiny possum and a giant rat were recorded by scientists as probable new species on a recent expedition to Indonesia's remote and virtually unknown "Lost World" in the pristine wilderness of western New Guinea's Foja Mountains. The Foja Wilderness is part of the great Mamberamo Basin, the largest unroaded tropical forest in the Asia Pacific region.

During the June expedition, the team* documented two mammals, a Cercartetus pygmy possum, one of the world's smallest marsupials, and a Mallomys giant rat, both currently under study and apparently new to science. They also recorded the mating displays of several rare and little-known birds for the first time.

Be careful where you stick that thing

According to an Australian news site, a drunk man in Phnom Penh had his member bitten by a playful puppy while relieving himself through a fence. Doctors expect the man to recover.

I wonder ...

I found this photo at My House Rabbit's Blog, but ...

I'm not so sure that those are rabbits. Don't the ears look kind of bat-ish?

And I wonder what the occasion was. Couldn't be Easter, everyone knows there's only ONE Easter Bunny!

Buy or adopt?

Where you get your pet is an important decision — and a big controversy.

People who bought their pets from a breeder said they got what they were looking for—but at a hefty price. These pet owners say they have experienced some backlash for getting a haute dog instead of one from a shelter.

While these custom canines fetch top dollar, shelter adoptions also are on the rise, according to Chicago-area shelter officials, who credit the attention from the large-scale pet rescue operation after Hurricane Katrina. Pet adoption recently commanded the spotlight when Ellen DeGeneres tearfully recounted on her talk show how a rescue group reclaimed the dog she adopted because DeGeneres gave the dog to her hairdresser.

Chicago dog and cat owners who adopt their pets from shelters say they are helping save animals' lives, though some of these owners say that the luck of the draw netted them an animal with undiscovered health or behavioral problems.

Rubber Duckitties

Rubber Duckitties
Are they ducks or a kitties?? Just a little bit of both! Available in 4 styles: Orange Tabby, Gray, Calico, and Black & White. Set of 4 includes one of each style. Rub-a-dub-dub! 2" each.

Rubber Ducky Earrings

Rubber Ducky Earrings

Rubber Duckies are not just for the bathtub or Ernie, oh no they are for your ear lobes too. This season bath toys are all the rage in accessories and these miniature plastic yellow duckies are the piece de resistance!


Computer mouse with rubber duckie

You'll get along swimmingly with your computer once you plug in this floating rubber ducky mouse that has real liquid inside! Watch with delight as the teeny duck and water splish and splash with every move of the mouse. It's smallish size makes it perfect for kids or teens computers, but why should the kids have all the fun?


Yay! Otters have come back to Chicago

Otters disappeared from the Chicagoland area a century or so back as population and development surged. But now, they're coming back.

The otter has made a comeback, Chris Anchor, chief biologist for the Cook County Forest Preserve District, said. "Almost all the watersheds in Cook County have otters. They're everywhere. They're kind of like the coyotes . . . there's definitely otters downtown."

Anchor isn't sure where they're now coming from. They may have migrated from Wisconsin along the Fox and Des Plaines rivers, or traveled up north from the Kankakee River. They also might be traced to Louisiana.

The Forest Preserve District plans to trap them and implant transmitters with the help of Brookfield Zoo, Anchor said. The devices will help track range, habits and lifespan. The animals will be checked for parasites, and blood and tissue samples will be taken for genetic studies.

Preventing Cats From Scratching

Kailani at an Island Life Blog (http://islandlife808.com/) posed a problem she is having. Her cats constantly scratch the carpet and furniture? She has scratching posts everywhere but they still prefer the carpet. And with new carpets installed, she'd like to stop the problem.

Unfortunately, this is no small task. Scratching is a natural behavior for cats. It helps strenghthen their claws, and is also a way of scent marking objects.

However, these tips may help:

-Many cats truly dislike the sound of pennies in a coffee can, and a few shakes if they are scratching something they shouldn’t can often make them run away from the object.
-Have a squirt water bottle ready. When the cat attacks furniture or the new carpet, give the cat a few gentle squirts to make him stop. Cats may also be discouraged by citrus smells, and spraying furniture, rugs or drapes with a citrus deodorizer can occasionally convince the cat to leave your itmes alone.
-At the same time that you discourage cats from scratching furniture and other objects, you should reward and encourage them to use their designated scratching post or toys. When a cat uses the scratching post, be on hand to offer a kitty treat or two. You should plan to offer treats for each scratch for several weeks. Then begin to offer the treats periodically, so the cat doesn’t always expect a reward. Sometimes this process can take several months.
-You can make cats a little less effective in their scratching by keeping their nails neatly trimmed. Many cats will accept nail trimming without putting up a fuss, especially when treats are offered as a reward. Longer, sharper nails typically result in greater damage to furniture, so there is excellent incentive for keeping an indoor cat’s nails short. Your veterinarian can show you how to trim nails safely so the cat is not injured in the process.

Turtle & Bird Joke

Deep within a forest a little turtle began to climb a tree. After hours of effort he reached the top, jumped into the air waving his front legs and crashed to the ground. After recovering, he slowly climbed the tree again, jumped, and fell to the ground. The turtle tried again and again while a couple of birds sitting on a branch watched his sad efforts. Finally, the female bird turned to her mate. "Dear," she chirped, "I think it's time to tell him he's adopted."

I wasn't going to say anything

It's all over the internet and the news - and I wasn't going to say anything, but the more I think about it, the more ridiculous it seems.

Why? Why? Why?
Isn't the world screwed up enough?
Can't we just enjoy the fuzzy little warm kitties as they are?
Do we really need to find them in the dark?

What I think is this - if the scientists really want to do something worthwhile they should clone a cat without claws so my furniture stays decent, or clone a cat that doesn't puke up hairballs so my carpets stay clean, or clone a cat that will clean its own litter box. Then I'll be impressed.

More pets getting end-of-life care

If there is any doubt that more and more people now-a-days care for their pets as if they were people, the growth of "animal hospice" may make you reconsider.

According to an article on MSN.com, about 30 vets nationwide are offering services for terminally ill cats and dogs.

For terminally ill pets, hospice care gives owners an alternative to expensive medical procedures or early euthanasia by teaching them how to nurse their dog or cat at home.

Hospice care doesn't aggressively treat terminally ill dogs and cats. Instead, animals are cared for at home and made comfortable through the use of painkillers and holistic methods, until pets die or their owners decide to euthanize.

While some pets only survive a few days, others live longer than expected—sometimes years— with supportive care.

To read the entier article, go to http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/22097836/

World's oldest tortoise dies

Addwaita, believed to be the world's oldest surviving tortoise, aged about 250 years, died in the zoo of liver failure.

Addwaita, which means "the one and only'' in the local Bengali language, was one of four Aldabra tortoises brought to India by British sailors in the 18th century.

Long after the other three tortoises died, Addwaita continued to thrive, living in Clive's garden before being moved to the Calcutta zoo in 1875.

Credit: AP Photo/Bikas Das

Cute Baby Gibbon

If you like animals, visit the Modulator and take a ride on the Friday Ark.

It's news! Man bites dog!

Reuters reports that an Indian villager was taken to hospital after he bit a rabid dog which attacked his duck.

A rabid dog, which had been frightening village residents for the past few weeks, stole a duck from Pappan's home. In a fit of anger, the farmer sprang on the animal and the two fell into a muddy ditch fighting.

The dog bit the man's hand and the latter sank his teeth into the animal's neck with all his might, so hard that he drew blood.

Only after both the man and the animal were exhausted did local residents come to Pappan's rescue clubbing the canine to death.

The man is being treated in the state capital of Thiruvananthapuram for rabies.

Family Ill After Taking In Stray Kitten

It was small, cute and furry, and 7-year-old Pam Dixon fell in love.

So when Pam and her older sister found the limping kitten outside, they brought it home, hoping to nurse it back to health.

However, Pam and her siblings would soon need the nursing, WLWT in Cincinnati reported.

A week after taking in the kitten, the two girls developed an itchy rash all over their bodies. Eventually, five of the six Dixon children got the rash.

A veterinarian informed the Dixons that the cat had microsporum gypsum, a form of ringworm.

Video: Scientists Wowed By Hopping Jerboa

An UPDATE to our September 19, 2007 post about the four-toed jerboa.

The Times Online reports that the jerboa has been filmed in its natural habitat for the first time as part of a project to save it from extinction.

Watch the video on YouTube

A scientific expedition to the Gobi desert in Mongolia has now succeeded in capturing video footage of the nocturnal and little-known animal.

“It’s an extraordinary animal that looks as if it’s been designed by committee - kangaroo legs, snowshoe feet, huge ears and a pig’s nose.

“It represents millions of years of evolutionary history and while it looks like a small rodent it’s very, very distinct. There’s no other animal of its type.”

Is this the cutest thing ever?

Olinka a 15-year old polar bear is pictured with one of her recently born twin cubs in Vienna's Schoenbrunn zoo December 12, 2007.

REUTERS/Michaela Hofmann/Tiergarten Schoenbrunn/Handout

Big, bad rodent sighted in New Jersey

Nutria are native to Brazil, Paraguay and Argentina. But they've been showing up in North America.

A 20-pound rodent that scientists say is one of the world's worst invasive species has been spotted in New Jersey. Nutria eat vegetation, causing animals and fish to lose their habitats.

State wildlife officials are asking people who spot nutrias to report them so they can determine whether they're colonizing in the state.

Photo credit: Greg Lasley

Back from the Christmas Place

Read Moose's story about his trip back from the Christmas Place.


Chicago may ban chickens

The same city that put out the welcome mat for bees and fought to protect goose livers is poised to send a different message to residents: We don't want your clucking chickens.

The City Council will vote Wednesday on a proposal to ban chickens, a former barnyard denizen that is pecking its way into cities across the country as part of a growing organic food trend among young professionals and other urban dwellers.

Cloned Cats Glow in the Dark

SEOUL (AFP) - South Korean scientists have cloned cats by manipulating a fluorescent protein gene, a procedure which could help develop treatments for human genetic diseases, officials said Wednesday.
In a side-effect, the cloned cats glow in the dark when exposed to ultraviolet beams.
A team of scientists led by Kong Il-keun, a cloning expert at Gyeongsang National University, produced three cats possessing altered fluorescence protein (RFP) genes, the Ministry of Science and Technology said.
"It marked the first time in the world that cats with RFP genes have been cloned," the ministry said in a statement.
"The ability to produce cloned cats with the manipulated genes is significant as it could be used for developing treatments for genetic diseases and for reproducing model (cloned) animals suffering from the same diseases as humans," it added.
The cats were born in January and February. One was stillborn while two others grew to become adult Turkish Angoras, weighing 3.0 kilogrammes (6.6 pounds) and 3.5 kilogrammes.
"This technology can be applied to clone animals suffering from the same diseases as humans," the leading scientist, Kong, told AFP.
"It will also help develop stemcell treatments," he said, noting that cats have some 250 kinds of genetic diseases that affect humans, too.
The technology can also help clone endangered animals like tigers, leopards and wildcats, Kong said.
South Korea's bio-engineering industry suffered a setback after a much-touted achievement by cloning expert Hwang Woo-Suk turned out to have been faked.
The government banned Hwang from research using human eggs after his claims that he created the first human stem cells through cloning were ruled last year to be bogus.
Hwang is standing trial on charges of fraud and embezzlement.

Baby gorilla arrives in style

A visitor at Sydney's Taronga Zoo noticed the blood on gorilla Frala's brown coat.

Within an hour, a small army of vets and keepers had descended on the gorilla enclosure to discover that Frala had given birth to a baby gorilla boy.

Frala's new son, who joins his four-year-old brother Fataki at the zoo, will feed on breast milk alone for around eight months before being introduced to vegetarian solids the rest of his family enjoys.


Video: Barney Bush Christmas 2007

Sea lion visits San Carlos streets

A young, disoriented sea lion is recovering at a marine mammal sanctuary after surviving an outing on a San Carlos street Tuesday.

"We received several phone calls saying, 'Hey, there's a sea lion in the middle of the road,' " police Cmdr. Rich Cinfio said.

When officers went out to Old County Road, sure enough, there was a 3 1/2-foot-long sea lion.

Officers blocked traffic in both directions and used a large bucket to try to corral the sea lion before herding it into a dog carrier, Cinfio said.

"Of course, it was frightened and wanted to get away, but it was getting away in the wrong direction," Cinfio said. "It's near railway tracks and everything else."

Police figure the sea lion, which had no visible injuries, made its way onto the street from a nearby slough or drainage creek.

Small Pets - Big Business

The American Pet Products Manufacturers Assn.’s 2007-2008 National Pet Owners Survey shows that 6 million households in the U.S. share their homes with some 22.8 million small pets, a 25 percent increase since 2004.

Mice, hamsters, rats, guinea pigs, chinchillas, rabbits, ferrets, sugar gliders, hedgehogs and degus, are proving that even if a creature is tiny, doesn't mean it's not loved.

And these pet owners are willing to spend money on their little buddies. The amount rabbit owners spent on toys, for example, quadrupled from $20 in 2004 to $83 in 2006. The dollars spent on nonsurgical veterinary care by guinea pig owners grew during that same time period from $28 to $58.

The fact that the "pocket-pet" segment of the industry is growing is of no surprise. It goes to show that the explosion of the pet industry is across the board, and not just in certain areas. In additional, smaller pets can be a bit easier to house, since they require less space, and usually less resources.

"Tug of War"

New pics of the puppies playing tug of war with one of their favorite toys. The funny part is that there are plenty of toys to go around. But, they always want to play with the same one at the same time.

Iguanas are difficult pets

Melissa Kaplan at Herp Care Collection cautions that iguanas are not for everyone. They are, sadly, not for the too many people who get them only to turn around and dump them because they were completely unprepared for what iguana keeping involves.

If you aren't up to all the reading that needs to be done to learn to care for iguanas properly, then iguanas aren't for you. If you are not ready to acomodate all the intrusions keeping an iguana will make into your life (and finances), then iguanas aren't for you.

Iguanas are difficult, frustrating, complicated, complex--and potentially dangerous.

Unique Litter Box

Anyone with cats knows that the better the litter box system, the easier it is to clean up after your cats. The Petmate company thinks their product is the ultimate in easy kitty clean-up.

Petmate presents the Litter Sweep Ultra Self-Cleaning Litter Care System. Featuring sensors that detect when a cat enters and leaves the unit, it quietly rakes the clumps into a large-capacity waste receptacle and seals waste and odors in a disposable bag, according to the company. Other features include a high rim, hidden gears and motors, a plated steel rake to help keep clumps from sticking, and an additional side-scraper to help prevent litter buildup around the pan’s edge. Twelve waste receptacle bags are included. Paw-cleaning ramp, dome and litter catcher mat are sold separately. More info on the company can be found at http://www.petmate.com/

Since I don't have cats, I haven't personally tried it, but if anyone has, I'd be interested in hearing your feedback.

Art by Yang Shan Shen

Largest Spitting Cobra Discovered

Africa's Naja ashei snake is not only the world's newest snake species—it's also the largest spitting cobra.

Blood and tissue samples helped confirm what some snake experts have long believed: that these massive, aggressive, extremely venomous snakes — which can grow to more than 9 feet long — form a separate species.

Wealthier Pet Owners Driving the Market

Wealthier pet owners are increasingly driving the dog and cat market, with pet-owning households with annual incomes of at least $70,000 now accounting for more than half (51 percent in 2005, compared to 35 percent in 2000 and 28 percent in 1995) the dollars spent on pet products and services ($47 billion), according to an August 2007 report from MarketResearch.com’s Packaged Facts division.

Between 1995 and 2005, the $70,000-plus households, which comprise less than one-third of overall pet-owning households, tripled their household expenditures from $5.2 billion to $18.6 billion and now account for more than half of spending for pet supplies, pet services and veterinary services, according to the Packaged Facts report “Market Trends: Premium Pet Demographics and Product Purchasing Preferences.” During that time, these households more than doubled their market share of overall pet supplies spending and now account for more than 60 percent of pet services bought. Those are three of four pet market categories tracked by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Consumer Expenditure Survey. These households also accounted for 42.7 percent of pet food expenditures, the fourth and largest category.

Although some of the growth in this segment’s market share can be attributed to a general increase in upper income households, it also signified the success of marketers tapping into the premium pet household’s willingness and ability to pamper their pets, Packaged Facts reported.

Market Share by Category: $70,000-Plus Income Households
1995 2005
Pet Food 23.8% 42.7%
Pet Supplies 22.8% 50.1%
Pet Services 51.1% 61.7%
Sources: Packaged Facts, based on U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Arnold's Christmas

Thanks to Penny for this great photo!

Green mouse surprise mug

For sale at Etsy


pack o' dogs pet stocking

Freshen up the holidays with a twist on some classics characters, colors and themes.

These wool felt stockings are hand made in Hungary by a womens' cooperative that uses traditional appliqué techniques.

The most expensive lion (and statue) in the world

A tiny limestone figure of a lion from ancient Mesopotamia has sold at a Sotheby's auction for $57m, almost double the previous record price for a sculpture.

The 3.25in tall Guennol Lioness is thought to have been carved 5,000 years ago in what is now Iraq and Iran.

The lion, whose new owner has not been identified, had been on loan to the Brooklyn Museum of Art for 59 years.

The previous record for a sculpture was set last month when Pablo Picasso's Tete de Femme was sold for $29m.

Froglets - they're like chicklets, but green

Solomon Island leaf frogs emerge from their eggs as fully-formed frogs, known as froglets.

Photo: Jessie Cohen / AP